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Sustainable Careers: The World Needs You Now

Bard College MBA | Friday April 12th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is a guest post by our friends at Bard College’s MBA in Sustainability Program (a 3p sponsor) – for the business leaders of the future who recognize the importance of all business moving towards true sustainability—economic, environmental, and social.

Bard CEP Students at Graduation

Bard CEP Students at Graduation

By Eban Goodstein

As graduation approaches, each of you probably know a number of talented, capable, motivated seniors (or recent grads) who will spin their wheels for a year or two, doing uninspired internships, waiting tables, and trying to find meaningful work. At the same time, the planet’s climate control system is spinning rapidly out of control. We are in an all-hands-on-deck situation, with no time to waste, and where every body counts.  When my father was 21, he had joined the army to fight fascism in Europe. Graduating seniors in 2013 face an equally urgent and powerful calling.

Students who truly get the climate challenge and the sustainability imperative need to be leaders, making a difference in their mid 20’s, through their careers. Together, we must bend the curve in the next few years, or else, by the time they turn 30, ppm CO2 will be 425, and a decade we cannot afford to lose will be lost, forever.  Equally critical, today’s graduating seniors need to develop key leadership skills and gain high-level experience to drive change in our energy, food and finance systems even faster in the coming decades.

Do you know good graduates who desire meaningful work building a sustainable future? And who are also facing a crushing job market, leaving little opportunity for BA’s? Then advise them to consider further training at a graduate school that can provide a pathway to high-impact, leadership work in their mid-20’s.

There are a number of terrific programs around the country.  Here at Bard, students who came to our graduate programs in environmental policy and sustainable business right out of undergrad are now—in their mid-20’s—  making that difference. They are driving sustainability in private sector companies, working for federal agencies and at DC think tanks, promoting sustainable development in Haiti and other countries, and helping set new agendas at state climate and energy agencies, and environmental consulting firms, from Oregon to Texas to Maine. They are helping bend the curve, and gaining the real world leadership skills to drive accelerated change in the next decade.

In the old days, many of us have counseled students to  “take some time off” before graduate school. But for students who desire to change the future, this advice is no longer tenable.  My father did not have that option, and for today’s graduates also, “time off” is not a choice.  In the current job market, and with a planet in peril, students who are serious about a career in sustainability can build their skills through leadership-focused graduate education to take on the work of the greatest generation.

It is not too late to start researching programs for next fall. Most graduate schools will consider applications for qualified candidates into late June. And, if applicants haven’t yet taken the GRE or GMAT, don’t worry. Many programs will review  student applications prior to them taking the standardized tests. Finally, make sure students find a graduate program that has a strong focus on career development: the whole point is to get them gaining serious leadership experience by their mid-20’s (and enable them to pay back those loans.)

For those seniors who understand the extraordinary moment in which we are living, who want to align their career goals and their passions, and who are now facing dim job prospects for meaningful work: Grad School at 22 can be a good option.

As always, I am always glad to discuss careers in sustainability: drop me a line at ebangood@bard.edu.

*Eban Goodstein is Director of The Bard MBA in Sustainability, and The Bard Center for Environmental Policy, offering MS degrees in Environmental Policy and Climate Science and Policy.


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